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Listen to Geoffrey Wheatcroft on 'Bloody Panico! Or, Whatever Happened to The Tory Party'

Blog | By Amelia Milne | Jun 05, 2024

Geoffrey Wheatcroft by Neil Spence photography


As the 4th July beckons, how topical that Geoffrey Wheatcroft spoke to The Oldie about 'Bloody Panico: Or, Whatever Happened to The Tory Party'. It is more 'send in the clowns' than 'things can only get better'.

Geoffrey retorted, 'I have never felt more gratitude to anyone than I do to Rishi Sunak, calling this election just as my book is published!'

Liz Truss was due to be speaking at the Oldie Literary Lunch, but pulled out due to election commitments in Norfolk. Liz was due to speak about how the Tory party can save the world, but Geoffrey Wheatcroft would be one person that does not agree.

Liz Truss's time as Prime Minister reminded Geoffrey of 19 years ago, when he published his book 'The Strange Death of Tory England' to which his latest book is a 'kind of afterthought'. The book was shortlisted for the Channel 4 Book Prize. 'Some bright spark doing the publicity' thought that it would be amusing to have a Booker prize style dinner and Geoffrey sat next-door to the leader of the Conservative party at that time, Michael Howard, leader of the Opposition. They made light banter and the same bright spark who was doing the publicity, thought it would be a good idea to film the judges of the prize in their deliberations and to show it on a huge screen. 14 years ago Geoffrey was a judge for the Orwell prize with Ferdinand Mount and 'thank god our deliberations weren't filmed'. The screen showed the judges discussing the different books. Geoffrey confided to the audience that had to listen to Michael Howard speaking in the 'most contentious tones' about his book, 'whose author he was sitting next to'.

Geoffrey said that although he was teased for writing the book at the time 'without being too self-congratulatory' it was ahead of its time!

Geoffrey seriously said the Conservatives weren't just heading to 'a severe defeat, but towards something a lot more terminal'

Geoffrey went on to speak about Boris Johnson, whose real name is, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and uses the stage name Boris 'a bit like Beyonce, or Sting!' In 2014, Boris had dinner with Spectator journalist, Anne Applebaum, whom he told that no one sane would ever leave the European Union. Two years later, he went back on his word. Geoffrey said 'it was a sad day for British Politics' when the UK decided to leave, due to an 'unprincipled opportunist'.

Since Brexit, the Tories have 'staggered from one disaster, to one screw-up' said Geoffrey, 'they don't know who they quite are anymore'.